MadHat Press

Soft Water by Charles Scott


Soft Water, by Charles Scott, is poetry of memory, covering a life ranging from a rural childhood to the Vietnam war and back home again

Charles Scott was born in Camden County, Missouri, in 1948; he now lives in Canada. He received a B.A. from Williams College in 1993 and an M.A. from Miami University. A chapbook of his poems, Old Ordnance, was published by Adastra Press in 2005. Most recently his poems have appeared in Nebo: A Literary Journal, Plainsongs, Plume, Poem, and Southern Poetry Review. Soft Water is his first full-length book. 

Praise for Soft Water

I’ve known Charles Scott’s poems for a long time, and they haunt me. They’re beautiful and unnerving, often at the same moment. In one, the poet wakes from a dream feeling “too much/has been wasted, stolen, given away.” But the poems exist, poised against all this loss. They save what they can save.

––Lawrence Raab, from the preface

In poem after poem in his excellent, often chilling, often precisely beautiful collection, Soft Water, Charles Scott demonstrates he’s the kind of writer for whom authenticity is both an event of “what happened” and the language that is sought and  found to render it. He gets things right. From the outset, his book establishes a quality of truth-telling about Vietnam: “After everything had settled, it was quiet/because there were no wounded,/everyone that was hurt/was dead.” That he never raises his voice about sensational moments is part of his authority. And his stateside poems, though informed by his Vietnam experience, can be rich and sensuous and tender. A real talent here.

—Stephen Dunn

So I get this email from a guy I never met, a Vietnam War veteran, thinks he’s a poet, and he wants me to write a blurb for his book. I don’t even know this guy, but I can’t think of a polite way to beg off, so I say, yes, send the manuscript, I’ll take a look. Sometimes the cosmos has a way of getting you to do things you really ought to do, and it turned out to be my lucky day. Scott doesn’t just think he’s a poet; he really is one. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. His poems run the gamut from wistful to frightening, poignant to profound. The war is here, but so are all sorts of other things—love, loneliness, sorrow, exaltation, a life lived with open eyes—all tangled up together the way life really is.

—W. D. Ehrhart

Soft Water
by Charles Scott
$21.95, paperback, 114 pp
ISBN-13:  978-1-941196-33-5


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